Ragtime Cycling column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.

As the old saying goes, “there are two things certain in life: death and taxes.”

In the case of your average cyclist, however, there is a third. Punctures.

Occasionally, you’ll have a spell of a few months where both tyre and inner tube remain miraculously intact.

You’ll be out riding with friends and find yourself forced to hang around patiently as they beaver away, bike upturned, replacing yet another failed inner tube and desperately searching for whatever thorn or shard of glass is still lodged in the tyre.

You may also, like me, have one friend in particular who is universally known as a ‘puncture magnet’, who it seems can ride no more than 20 or 30 miles at a time without being forced to dig out tyre leavers and puncture repair kit and fix yet another mishap.

It’s almost as if his role in life is to ride on ahead and clear the road of sharp objects by riding over them and taking the punctures for the team.

When you ride with him you remain immune, for now, from that heart sinking whhooosshhh of air, but the minute you get complacent you are sure to get a visit from ‘the puncture fairy’.

After riding happily and puncture free for weeks on end one day, for no apparent reason, you’ll have that fateful thought.

“Hmmm”, you think, “I’ve not had a puncture for a while, I really wouldn’t like to get one now”.

And with that thought you have set the clock ticking; it is now only a matter of time before you locate the nearest sharp object and ride directly over it.

It’s as if the simple thought of a flat tyre rouses the puncture fairy from her unexplained sleep, and reminds her that you’re long overdue a visit.

I’m sure there are plenty of you out there thinking that this is superstitious nonsense of the worst kind - which it is, of course.

Trust me, I’m the coldest and most rational non-believer, but go ahead and put yourself in the one place in your local area where you would least like to get a puncture, in the most inclement weather, and try goading the puncture fairy to see what happens.

Go on, I dare you.